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Uncertainty Considerations for Reciprocating Compressor Performance Testing
Performance testing of reciprocating compressors has become important in the past few years as companies find it necessary to verify the efficiency of compressors and to identify the sources of horsepower loss. Different methods for performance testing such as methods based on Pressure-Volume measurements and methods based on suction and discharge enthalpy are being used to evaluate the performance of reciprocating compressors. Some operators favor one method over the other but very little analytic or quantified results have been collected to evaluate the different performance testing methods. An estimate of the uncertainty of a performance test result is one way to quantify the expected accuracy of a test method and to identify how useful a test method may be. When the performance of centrifugal compressors is measured, redundant transducers, a lot of care related to the stability of operations the period of data recording, the sampling of gas streams, and the measurement of atmospheric conditions are used to ensure accurate results are obtained. In addition, complete uncertainty calculations are conducted when a centrifugal compressor performance test is reported. However, when reciprocating compressor tests are conducted a minimum of transducer are used, gas flows and compositions are assumed, and many other details have normally simplified. The uncertainty analysis developed in this paper highlight the need for additional transducers, the careful accounting of gas properties and atmospheric conditions, and control of other operational factors. This paper presents an estimate of the uncertainty of reciprocating compressor performance tests under a number of different conditions by both the Pressure-Volume card method and the suction and discharge pressure and temperature enthalpy rise method. Examples of the uncertainty results will demonstrate the need for redundant measurements, for stable operating conditions, for better averaging techniques, and for accountin
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